A letter from Bishop William Patrick Callahan has informed members of the Wisconsin-based Diocese of La Crosse Lay Employees’ Retirement Plan that they will be losing their pension benefits.
“After much analysis, discussions and prayers, it has been determined that it is necessary to terminate the Diocese of La Crosse Lay Employees’ Retirement Plan at this time,” Callahan wrote in the Feb. 27 letter, received over the weekend by plan members.
The plan has been underfunded for years; the letter notes that it was frozen in 2007 and was replaced with a 403(b) retirement plan, leaving increases for members’ accrued benefits in the cold after Dec. 31, 2006.
More than 1,000 members will lose their benefits, and the full magnitude of the plan termination won’t be felt until late May, as reported by the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, who broke the story.
Catholic school teachers, custodians, secretaries, rectory workers, and other Diocese employees affected by the closing will see all lay funds distributed as a one-time, lump-sum payment based on the ratio of available assets divided by total liabilities. According to the letter, each eligible individual will be impacted differently by this payment method.
Until the final payment is made in the summer, monthly pension payments will continue.
“People are very, very apprehensive, to put it mildly,” retired Regis High School teacher Howard Campbell told the paper. “The main thing is the very tenuous uncertainty hanging over their heads. That’s the frightening thing for a lot of people.”